Vines, EHS shut down Volunteer

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   Jerry Reed once had a popular hit with a song titled "When You're Hot You're Hot, and When You're Not, You're Not." On Tuesday at Joe O'Brien Field, there was a hot pitching performance taking place.
   Behind a two-hit, six-strikeout performance by junior Joseph Vines, the Elizabethton Cyclones took a big Watauga Conference tilt with a 2-0 win over the visiting Volunteer Falcons.
   "There were two great pitchers throwing today," said Falcon head coach Moe Cloud. "Their pitcher kept us behind in the strike count all day, and when we poked the ball it went right to somebody."
   Volunteer's top of the first was quicker than a drive-through order at Taco Bell. Vines had to unleash only five pitches in the inning to retire the Falcons in order with two groundouts to short and a lazy fly to Joseph Taylor at first.
   The Cyclones were gracious hosts as Vines counterpart Tim Ofiero threw only nine offerings to retire the 'Clones in the bottom of the first. B.J. Miller was handcuffed forcing a pop up to the pitcher while Justin Williams and Travis Bowers grounded out to the Falcon third baseman to close out the frame.
   Vines came back out strong to begin the second. Clean-up batter Wes Bowery went down on strikes and Ofiero was retired by Jeremy Hodge on a fly ball to open the inning. Scott McConnell then bit on one in the dirt for the second strikeout for Vines in the frame.
   Elizabethton finally got the wheels turning in the bottom half of the inning. Chris Hurt stoked a single to single to open the frame. Hurt then advanced to second on a wild pitch by Ofiero.
   A ground ball out to short advanced Hurt to third. Joseph Taylor hit a tough roller between the pitching mound and third base that was handled by Daniel Byington to retire Taylor.
   Hurt, using some base-running savvy, raced for home plate and patted the plate with his hand on a head first slide. Right fielder Michael Porter hit a major league infield fly for out number three but not before the Cyclones took the 1-0 lead.
   "We didn't get much offense today," said Cyclone mentor Steve McKinney. "But hey, when your pitcher does like Vines did today, you don't need a whole lot because he pitched a great game."
   Vines cruised through the third inning without losing a drop of sweat offering up a meager seven pitches to retire the Falcons. Two easy ground outs coupled with another strikeout for Vines took care of Volunteer in the third.
   The Cyclones were looking to take advantage of the fine pitching effort by Vines in their third. Ofiero was up to the task as he shut the home team down with a good effort of his own.
   Josh Irick hit one to the third baseman that was handled for the first out of the inning. Hodge worked his way out of a 0-2 count to draw a walk before Ofiero managed to get Miller and Bowers to ground out to end any threat.
   Volunteer was looking to get a rally going to even the game in their fourth, but first they would have to reach Vines who hadn't even broke a sweat in the game.
   Jake Qualls went down looking to open the inning. Joe Simpson hit a lazy liner to Bowers for the second out before Byington broke the ice for Volunteer with a single to right field. Bowery ended the inning for the Falcons on a ground ball to Bowers at short.
   "I really felt good when I went out there tonight," said Vines. "I was able to change speeds on my pitches really well and the coaches called some great pitch sequences, allowing the defense to make some really good plays."
   EHS opened up the fourth on a ground out by Williams. Hurt reached after the second baseman didn't get his backside down. Daniel Range hit into a fielders choice to erase Hurt. Taylor became the final out on a ground ball to third, wrapping up the inning for the Cyclones.
   The Falcons again were listless against the junior Cyclone hurler in the fifth making for an easy three up and three down fifth inning. EHS maintained a 1-0 lead going into their portion of the inning.
   Porter was retired on a slow hit grounder that the Volunteer third baseman made a great play on to nip the hustling Porter down the line. Irick went down swinging for out number two before Hodge reached on a single poked over the second baseman's head.
   Hodge swiped second and took third on a wild pitch. Miller had an opportunity to edge the lead to a deuce, but hit into a routine fly ball to left field for the final out in the 'Clones fifth.
   The Cyclone defense sandwiched another strikeout from Vines in between two ground ball outs to Bowers at short for the fifth three up and three down inning of the contest for the Falcons in the top of the sixth.
   Bowers worked Ofiero for a walk to lead off the bottom frame of the sixth for the Cyclones. Adam Greenlee came in to pinch run for Bowers and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Williams.
   Hurt struck out looking for the second out. Greenlee used the height of Range as a tool to block the catcher's throw as he stole third. On the next pitch, Ofiero bounced one in the dirt that scooted by the catcher and Greenlee raced in for the Cyclones second run.
   The insurance run wasn't needed though as Vines breezed through the final frame allowing only a hit to Simpson before closing the door on the visitors from Church Hill.
   "We'll need to hit the drawing board again," stated Cloud. "Batting practice is definitely a must right now."
   Elizabethton now stands at 9-7 overall and 4-6 in conference play while Volunteer drops to 5-4 in conference action and 8-14 overall. The Cyclones entertain county rival Hampton on Friday in Watauga Conference action at Joe O'Brien Field.